For the first time since the 2000 season, the Valparaiso Crusaders have swept a Mid-Continent Conference series, defeating Oakland by scores of 5-2 and 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field.
The last Crusader sweep was also against Oakland at home. Valpo has also won five straight games, the longest winning streak since the Brown and Gold won six straight spanning the 1999 and 2000 years.
In the opener, Oakland jumped in front first with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Erica Judge singled up the middle with one out and Katie Jones followed with her first homerun of the season down the leftfield line.
Valpo answered in the bottom of the inning with five runs on just one hit. A leadoff walk by Stephanie Reinke (Parker, Colo./J.K. Mullen H.S.) and a fielder's choice put runners on first and second and a walk to Tricia Speziale (Elmhurst, Ill./York H.S.) loaded the bases. Karen Constien (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) singled through the right side to tie the game. Another walk reloaded the bases and Valpo scored a pair of runs on wild pitches and the other on a ground out.
Amanda Gilbertson (Murrieta, Calif./West Albany H.S., Ore.) did the rest for the Crusaders, going the distance in the circle striking out four for the complete game victory. She scattered just five hits in the win. Nicole Marzano took the loss for Oakland, allowing just two hits, but walking five and striking out four. Jones went 2-for-3 for the Golden Grizzlies.
In game two, Brittany Atteberry (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central H.S.) and Gilbertson combined for the shutout. Atteberry went the first 3 2/3 innings and gave way to Gilbertson for the next 2 2/2. Atteberry returned in the top of the seventh to for Oakland into a game-ending doubleplay to get the win. She struck out two and allowed five hits, while Gilbertson gave up three.
Valpo scored in the opening inning as Reinke singled and stole second. Speziale then doubled to rightfield to plate the first run of the game. The game then turned into a pitching dual, as Korey Schluckbier went the distance for Oakland, allowing just six hits and striking out two.
The Crusaders final run came in the sixth as Reinke again reached with a single. After a sacrifice bunt, Monica Rowan (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park H.S.) doubled to left to add the insurance run.
With the win, Valpo (13-15, 7-1 Mid-Con) moves into sole possession of first place in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Crusaders have now won nine of their last 11 ball games. Oakland falls to 9-24, 1-11.
Valparaiso will return to action on Tuesday afternoon as the Crusaders travel to Chicago for a 3 p.m. doubleheader against DePaul.